There has been many a discussion post season as to why we finished in fifth spot in the league last season, when many, myself included, thought that fourth should have been a definite and maybe even second or third was a real possibility.
Some of the post mortem debates have been;
Was it the lack of goals from the strikeforce and the fact we didn’t strengthen this area in the January transfer window? At the start of the season most would have said it was good enough to compete.
Was it that our success in the CL had a negative and tiring effect on our league form as we all know about the 2 points from 8 games fact, plus the seeming inability to defeat the so called inferior teams?
Is that I and many others are just wrong and we really aren’t as good as we had hoped and believed and we are in the right place for the level we are at?
All the above points have merit to some degree.
We know that our strikeforce of JD, Pav, Crouchy and Keano should have been capable of firing in the goals as they had plenty of imagination, flair and talent behind them creating the chances for them. But ,for various reasons, it didn’t happen for them last season and when we desperately needed to strengthen and had the opportunity this failed to materialise also.
The inability to defeat lesser teams was the most frustrating fact from last season for me. I can hear you saying now to yourself ‘why would this be?’, as Spurs have a history of doing such things and you would be correct in that thought. The previous season we were much better at getting the points when we struggled and played the bottom half of the table teams and maybe I just expected the team to carry on in the same vein. Of course the CL exertions had an effect but we have a quality and large enough squad that should have been used to its maximum to prevent such a dire return at the tail end of the season.
After reflecting on the last season I truly believe that it really was a superb opportunity for us to finish anywhere from second to fourth in the league as we had the talent to have done this. Especially as Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and even Manchester United struggled for large parts of the season, so a real opportunity lost in my eyes. On the where we really are front and compared to the other teams mentioned I think we can honestly seriously compete with City, Liverpool and Arsenal now.
But, after reading a very good article in the latest edition of FourFourTwo Magazine (@FourFourTwo on Twitter) I put forward this reason: Injuries and specifically injury to Ledley King!
According to said article Spurs had 61 different injuries during the last season, the most in the PL, the least were BLackpool with 20. Spurs as a whole lost 1528 days to injuries, the 4th most, Sunderland were top with 2001 days. I know our squad should be big enough and have enough depth within it to cope with such issues as every team has them, but 61! That seems a hell of a lot of injuries and days lost, I wonder how many times that specific ones occurred? Maybe the club should analyse what they were, how many times they occurred and how they could possibly change the training routine to prevent some of them. Yes, some were obviously match related injuries that you cannot do anything about as it is a contact sport after all and also injuries occurred to players whilst playing for the their countries rather then us (Dawson and JD’s for England being 2). Still, injuries on this scale must have an effect on the team with consistency, gelling with and understanding team mates, fitness levels and possibly psychologically as well. With the amount of games we played I am not saying this was the only reason but it may have been a real factor and taken its toll on the team.
My second point on the injury front issue is our leader, Mr Cool himself, Ledley King. I firmly believe he is the best centre back in the country bar none and it’s a crying shame what has happened to him due to his dodgy knees mainly, amongst other related issues. I have some interesting facts for you:
Last season LK missed 197 days of a 282 day PL season (the previous season 101). He was included in 10 squads throughout the last season, starting 9 times and being an unused sub once, 6 starts were in the PL (previous season 21 starts, 20 in PL). This related to a total of 764 minutes of competitive football played last season and 1637 minutes the season before. Our win percentage with him in the team last season was 75% (PL games only and yes I know only 6 of them!), and without 58%, over a much longer period it has to be said. I can counter this though with the stat that over the last 7 seasons we are at a win percentage of 59% with him in the team and 50% when he isn’t. How many points this relates to last season if he played even 10 more league games of the 32 that he missed is anyone’s guess but if we used a win percentage of only 50% and converted some of the draws into wins, it would be anywhere from 10-15 points I reckon and second place in the league! Wishful thinking I know.
Obviously this is all theoretical and stats can be twisted to suit but I do honestly believe we are a much calmer, better team with LK in it that wins more. It also would have helped if we could have had available our first choice XI much more often (obviously with squad rotation being taken into account) without the deluge of injuries and last season could have been even better than it was.
Hopefully next season we won’t have so many injuries, especially to our top players, Ledley will play some more games and our strikers will be firing.
Top four here we come!
All facts and figures taken from myfootballstats.com and FourFourTwo Magazine